Banque Internationale à Luxembourg is playing a leading role in financing businesses and supporting the growth of Luxembourg’s economy, including the country’s start-up ecosystem. Pierre-Olivier Rotheval, BIL’s Head of Innovation, discusses the bank’s strategy and its recent initiatives to support innovation, as well as the upcoming ‘Startuppers’ night he is organizing to bring Luxembourg’s entrepreneurs together.
(Featured Image: Pierre-Olivier Rotheval / Image Credit: BIL)
We work with many start-ups every day on topics like financing, funding, or even product development collaboration. We are amazed by the creativity, energy and dedication it takes to work at a start-up.
How is innovation a key component of BIL’s strategy?
Innovation is a central component of our BIL2020 strategy. How can we best bring new services to our clients? How can we improve our current services and processes? Innovation is a mindset that touches all of our activities: from the transformation of our IT system to supporting Luxembourg’s start-up ecosystem.
We decided early this year to partner with nyuko and Technoport, two essential structures that help start-up entrepreneurs get their projects off the ground. We share their vision of making Luxembourg a start-up nation and of emphasizing the importance of fostering entrepreneurship. The positive side-effect of this support is that we know who the entrepreneurs are, we know what’s going on in the market and what the latest tech trends are. And if we see an innovative service that would make a valuable addition to our own services, then we are ready to take our collaborative approach a step further.
Innovation also comes from within. BIL is undertaking many projects that will transform the bank over the next few years. For example, we have undertaken a major overhaul of our IT system. We will focus on digitization and on client service innovation across all of our business lines.
How do you support entrepreneurs – and start-ups – in Luxembourg?
Our main role is to help start-ups to obtain financing. This can take many forms. As a Luxembourg bank, we play a leading role in financing businesses and supporting the growth of the national economy.
In July 2015, we signed a deal with the European Investment Fund that allows us to benefit from the InnovFin guarantee. We have committed to provide 60 million euros over two years in support of innovative Luxembourg SMBs. With this program, 50% of the value of our loans is guaranteed by the EIF. By partially reducing the cost of BIL’s risk, the innovative company can get a better interest rate.
Moreover we can assist start-ups on the lookout for fresh capital in finding investors.
We are also one of the initial backers of the Digital Tech Fund, which provides seed financing to entrepreneurs developing innovative companies in the area of digital technology. And of course by supporting Technoport and nyuko, we are supporting entrepreneurs.
When we look at start-ups in terms of a product or solution adoption perspective, we are interested by businesses that can help us increase our efficiency, in fields such as payments, data analytics, Regtech, etc.
What do you expect from the “Startuppers Night”?
We work with many start-ups every day on topics like financing, funding, or even product development collaboration. We are amazed by the creativity, energy and dedication it takes to work at a start-up. This “Startuppers” night is our way of giving back to the community. We’re inviting all start-uppers, not only founders, to this party. Of course, we didn’t just want to throw a regular party. Being “geeks” ourselves, we thought that a geek theme would appeal to the denizens of this ecosystem! Our expectations are pretty simple: we want people to have as much fun during the night as we had preparing it.
More seriously, we believe that startuppers and BIL should be working alongside to make Luxembourg a start-up nation. We know how fast-paced and stressful a startupper’s life can sometimes be, and we thought the ecosystem deserved a dedicated party.
What do you think about the Luxembourg’s ecosystem for start-ups?
I am amazed by the diversity, dynamism and energy of the ecosystem. Organisations such as Technoport, our hosts tonight, and nyuko do a tremendous job of supporting innovative companies. Financing is also crucial in allowing the ecosystem to thrive, and significant progress was accomplished the past year. At BIL, we want to do our part!
From my perspective, the fascinating part of our financing activities is that we have to dig deeper into the business models, not just scratch the surface, because doing so reveals some fascinating elements of start-up ideas, technology, design and business models. We are lucky enough to have gems in Luxembourg. I am personally very interested in the internet of things, e-commerce, and of course, FinTech.
What are the key industries you are looking at?
There are two answers to this question:
As a bank for entrepreneurs, we are interested in all industries and we see strong business models in every field. The same applies to innovative companies: we look at all industries, regardless of the field.
When we look at start-ups in terms of a product or solution adoption perspective, we are interested by businesses that can help us increase our efficiency, in fields such as payments, data analytics, Regtech, etc. Again, as a bank, we also want to meet companies that can help us improve our value proposition and client experience, which is obviously why we’re interested in FinTechs.
This article was then published in SILICON